Melinda French Gates Says She Will Vote for Biden

Melinda French Gates formally endorsed President Biden on Thursday, the latest step into partisan politics by a woman who, for decades, resisted entering the fray.

Her candidate of choice was never really in question. Ms. French Gates, an outspoken advocate for women and girls around the globe, was critical of the Trump presidency. And she was dismayed by former President Donald J. Trump’s appointment of Supreme Court justices who proved instrumental in overturning Roe v. Wade. But Ms. French Gates and her former husband, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, had insisted on not formally endorsing in political campaigns, saying that such statements could compromise their ability to do philanthropic work with politicians of both parties on matters like public health.

Ms. French Gates acknowledged that history on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve never endorsed a presidential candidate before. But this year’s election stands to be so enormously consequential for women and families that, this time, I can’t stay quiet,” she wrote on X. “I will be voting for President Biden.”

As recently as 2016, despite her friendship with Hillary Clinton, Ms. French Gates said that she and Mr. Gates “never endorse a candidate.” Eight years later, her position has changed. She has yet to donate to Mr. Biden’s campaign, but she has made a number of six- and seven-figure donations to Democratic groups over the last few years. On Wednesday, for instance, Federal Election Commission disclosures revealed that she had put $500,000 into a super PAC affiliated with Emily’s List, the liberal advocacy group that supports Democratic female candidates who champion abortion rights.

More political donations are likely to come. Ms. French Gates has recently come into her own war chest as part of her separation from Mr. Gates. The terms of that agreement included her resigning as co-chair of the Gates Foundation, their joint philanthropic organization.

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